BOSTON — Governor Charlie Baker today announced some of the biggest steps yet toward a return to normalcy in Massachusetts, with a relaxed face coverings order for some outdoor settings beginning this Friday, and the reopening of some of the businesses that were not allowed to reopen until Phase 4, Step 2 of his reopening plan.

Effective April 30, face coverings will only be required outside in public “when it is not possible to socially distance, and at other times required by sector-specific guidance.” Face coverings will still be required at all times in indoor public places and at all indoor and outdoor events, even if they are held in a private home, except when eating or drinking.

However, face coverings are recommended but will no longer be required at smaller gatherings at private homes, and the $300 fine will be eliminated.

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A press release from the governor’s office said that since Massachusetts went to Phase 4, Step 1 on March 22, “case rates dropped by 20 percent” and “the positivity rate has dropped to the lowest levels recorded since last summer.”

As such, there will be an easing of restrictions on a number of types of businesses beginning in May.

Massachusetts Ease of Restrictions Beginning Monday, May 10:

– Large venues such as indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas, and ballparks will be allowed to increase from 12 percent capacity to 25 percent capacity.

– Phase 4, Step 2 industries such as amusement parks, theme parks, and outdoor water parks will be permitted to operate at 50 percent capacity, after submitting safety plans to the Dept. of Public Health.

– Road races and other large, outdoor organized athletic events will be permitted, with staggered starts required and safety plans submitted to the local board of health or the DPH.

– Youth and adult amateur sports tournaments will be allowed for moderate and high-risk sports.

– Singing will also be permitted indoors with strict distancing requirements at performance venues, restaurants, event venues and other businesses.

Massachusetts Ease of Restrictions Beginning Saturday, May 29:

– Subject to public health and vaccination data, gathering limits will increase to 200 people indoors and 250 people outdoors for event venues, public settings and private settings.

– Subject to public health and vaccination data, additional Phase 4, Step 2 industries will be permitted to open including:

– Street festivals, parades and agricultural festivals, at 50 percent of their previous capacity and after submitting safety plans to the local board of health.

– Bars, beer gardens, breweries, wineries and distilleries, will be subject to restaurant rules with seated service only, a 90-minute limit and no dance floors.

– Subject to public health and vaccination data, the restaurant guidance will be updated to eliminate the requirement that food be served with alcohol and to increase the maximum table size to 10.

Massachusetts Ease of Restrictions Beginning Sunday, August 1:

– Subject to public health and vaccination data, remaining industries will be permitted to open, including: dance clubs and nightclubs; saunas, hot tubs, and steam rooms at fitness centers and other facilities; indoor water parks; and ball pits

– All industry restrictions will be lifted at that time, and capacity will increase to 100 percent for all industries, with businesses encouraged to continue following best practices. The gathering limit will be rescinded.

The governor’s office said that depending on public health data, the administration “may consider re-evaluating the August 1st date” and will continue to issue guidance as needed, “including guidance to still require masks indoors.”

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While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.

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